Colorado Building and Construction Trades Council

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An open letter to Colorado construction workers

This letter is from one construction worker to another.

We all derive our incomes from the same industry, by working with our hands and our minds to build Colorado. We build homes, factories, office buildings, schools and highways. Without us, our state and nation would collapse. Our hearts and our minds are often hardened by the nature of our work.

Most working Americans do not understand what it's like to work construction. They don't appreciate 10 or 12 hour workdays, frequent layoffs and the financial pressures of seasonal employment.

They don't face the constant threat to life and limb which we face every working day. Many people know construction only through the windshields of their cars. They watch us work...but those of us working on the job site know what it takes. We know the discipline and hard work necessary to acquire the many skills for a career in construction.

Most of us are highly individualistic whether we are union or merit shop. we are proud of ourselves and our work. Unfortunately, we work in an industry which today is competing mostly on the basis of our wages and working conditions. In order to successfully bid a job, many contractors slash wages before they attempt to cut any other costs. This results in a dark, downward spiral for all of us. Our industry is forcing us to compete with each other, even though construction jobs are plentiful in Colorado. Every time you or I accept a$L00 cut in hourly wages, your brother or sister tradesman will feel the effect. It is an unfair system, but if we use the guts and grit that we take to the job site everyday and apply it to improve our jobs, there is no limit to our potential If we work together to establish wage levels for each construction trade, we will improve our lives, communities and our futures.

This basically is what UNIONISM is all about, BUT WE MUST DO IT TOGETHER OR WE CAN'T DO IT AT ALL.

We do not have to work for an employer who has little or no regard for the welfare of all of his employees!

We are entitled to earn a livable wage under decent working conditions.

We (construction workers, regardless of craft) have the right to live and work with dignity and demand the respect of the people for whom we work.

We are all dependent on each other whether we like it or not, why not work together to accomplish these goals


The inability of individual workers to have any real and meaningful say in what happens to him or her at work caused the Congress of the United States to pass the National Labor Relations Act in 1935. That law secured to American workers the right to form, join, or assist labor organizations without any kind of threat or discrimination against them. Predictably that statute caused working women and men through-out our country to organize themselves into labor unions in order to better themselves. At the same time that the ranks of the organized trades and labor groups swelled, the standard of living of American workers —their wages and benefits — increased to a greater extent than in any other period of our nation's history.

These events resulted in the creation of a large and stable middle class. Organized workers could afford to take vacations. They began to provide for their own golden years. They were able to set aside some modest contribution to the education of their children. They and their families were able to enjoy some of the good things in life.

The economic wealth of the United States as an industrial nation remains basically secure. While there is indeed significantly greater international competition for the production of necessary goods and services, the country as a whole remains healthy. But a curious thing has happened to those who produce the goods and services which we all need and those who build the buildings and other structures in which the economic wealth is created. America's middle class has shrunk. The real wage of its workers has gone steadily downhill for the ]as[ two decades or more. At the same time, the wage earners in many other industrial countries have increased significantly and appear to be doing better than our American workers.

What has happened to the wealth? It has not evaporated, nor is it taken by the government in taxation. Rather, as the middle class has shrunk, we are steadily turning to a situation where the rich become richer and the number of people who constitute the economic underclass steadily increases. Each of us has read studies and newspaper articles about the obscene deferred compensation plans made available to top managers. Each of us has read about the huge difference in wages of workers and top managers.

The only answer is to return to a recognition that only by organizing can we sustain ourselves and defend our families. Workers don't need to read any statistics to be told how bad things are. Organizing with their co-workers into labor organizations is the only way they can have a meaningful voice at work.

The local unions affiliated with the Colorado Building & Construction Trades Council mean for their members to be and to remain members of the middle class. They have dedicated their very existence to enhancing the dignity and the economic welfare of their members. We invite you to join in• this exciting activity by affiliating with your appropriate craft union.

-Walter C. Brauer III, Esquire


- Open Letter
- The Union
- History
- Myth vs. Reality
- Dues
- Negotiations
- Contracts
- Right to Organize
- Prevailing Wage
- Labor Management


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